If there's one rule you'd think would be drilled into executives' heads, it would be this: Don't say anything in e-mail you don't want seen publicly.
That advice is being driven home for retiring Microsoft exec Jim Allchin. Groklaw has reported that an Iowa lawsuit turned up a 2004 memo of his sent to Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates, in which Allchin states that "Microsoft had lost sight of what customers need and that he himself would buy a Mac, if he didn't work for Microsoft."
Allchin has a bit of a reputation for being brutally honest, a trait that has sometimes gotten him into trouble. (He once referred to the iMac as "warmed over Mach kernel," and confessed that a Microsoft Internet strategy wasn't "fleshed out yet".)
He tried to explain the Mac comments in a blog posting, saying that he was "being purposefully dramatic in order to drive home a point," and that "Windows Vista has turned into a phenomenal product, better than any other OS we've ever built and far, far better than any other software available today."
But the original comments were enough to set off the bloggers, who reacted with glee to the faux pas.
Blog community response:
"In fact he told the above to his people once Microsoft was under the gun. Don't archive, or keep your e-mail beyond 30 days. Google you might want to learn from the sins of your fathers, Technically Speaking that is."
"Of course you would, Jim, but now you can! Not only because you're retiring, but also because you can run Windows on the new Intel-based Macs. Lucky you! You didn't even have to quit Microsoft to have the pleasure of using a Mac. If only you'd known...."
"Presumably that means the Seattle-area Apple Stores shouldn't be looking for a surprise customer anytime soon. Nevertheless, Steve Jobs suddenly has an eye-catching quote to add to his slides for next month's Macworld keynote."
--Todd Bishop's Microsoft Blog
"Sounds like ad copy for Apple if you ask me!"